The UK ‘may have to do further lockdowns this winter’, a top expert has warned.
Dr Susan Hopkins from Public Health England said she hopes the current wave ‘will not look the same as previous waves’, as the NHS continues to plough ahead with the coronavirus vaccination programme.
More lockdowns are possible in winter, but this depends on hospital admissions and there will also be alternatives, she said.
Boris Johnson has admitted there is ‘no route to a Covid-free society’, but says he hopes the planned easing of all restrictions on July 19 will be ‘irreversible’.
The PM has delayed England’s June 21 ‘Freedom Day’ in the hope that an extra four weeks will allow everyone over 40 to get double-jabbed to protect from the Delta variant, first found in India.
When questioned on the prospect of future restrictions, Dr Hopkins said ‘we need to move to a situation that we live with this’.
Speaking on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show, she said: ‘I think that means we wouldn’t normally put people into lockdown for severe cases of influenza.
‘We may have to do further lockdowns this winter, I can’t predict the future.
‘It really depends on whether hospitals start to become overwhelmed at some point.
‘But I think we will have alternative ways to manage this – through vaccination, through anti-virals, through drugs, through testing – that we didn’t have last winter.
‘All of those things allow us different approaches – rather than restrictions on lives and restrictions on livelihoods – that will move us forward into the next phase of learning to live with this as an endemic, which is something that happens with respiratory viruses.’
Dr Hopkins added that the country is currently ‘seeing the impact of vaccination’.
She said: ‘We are definitely seeing some signals in some areas of cases slowing down, Bolton for example has definitely reversed, Blackburn and Darwen has stabilised.
‘But there are other parts of the country, particularly in some parts of the north-east, some parts of London that are still rising quite fast.
‘So I think this is not all doing the same thing all over the country, and we’re seeing rises and falls as people go out and get tested and I think we are seeing the impact of vaccination and that is good news.
‘The extra time to vaccinate more people, get two doses of vaccination in as many people as possible will hopefully mean that what we’re seeing with this wave won’t look the same as the previous waves that we’ve seen in this country.’
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